Somalia_Girls in hijabs sitting in classroom

Female Genital Mutilation: A daily grim reality for girls in Somalia

On 6th February the world marks International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Somalia has recorded the highest cases of FGM, with 98% of girls between the ages of 5-11 having undergone Type III, infibulation, which is the most brutal form. UNICEF reports that at least 200 million girls in 31 countries across the world have undergone FGM.

Khadra* is a mother of five benefited from the awareness-raising activities implemented by CARE International. Unfortunately, she had already circumcised her three daughters, but she has vowed not to circumcise her two other daughters.

We, as parents, brought this problem to our children. They are now suffering because we did not understand the repercussions,
Khadra, mother of 5 daughters.

“I thought it was good for them, but later, I came to realize it was not. Now my daughters face so many challenges, such as bleeding, and difficulty in urinating.  We had financial problems as we used all our money to treat our sick girls who were circumcised.

Now I am very grateful for the information on the effects of FGM. We have also received more information on FGM on radios and from religious leaders.  May Allah forgive us because this was a terrible thing we did to our girls, and we will not repeat this again,” said Khadra*.

As the Horn of Africa drought continues to affect Somalia, CARE is concerned about the impact this will have on the cases of FGM as girls are dropping out of school. Currently, the education and protection clusters are the least funded sectors at 12% and 26.3% respectively. The latest report from the education cluster indicates that 2.4 million children are affected by the drought. Already 1.7 million of them have dropped out. This presents a worrying outlook. During COVID-19 lockdowns, there was an over 61% spike in reported FGM cases as most girls dropped out of school.

Ummy Dubow, CARE Somalia Deputy Country Director for Programs said, “This day is a grim reminder of how the harmful practice has affected girls in the country. We continue to get reports of girls who are losing their lives as they go through this inhumane process. On this day, CARE Somalia calls upon the relevant authorities to criminalize female genital mutilation and to safeguard the rights and health of Somali girls. We are working with mothers and school clubs to raise awareness of the effects of this practice. FGM only brings a lifetime of challenges for both wife and husband, physically and psychologically.

We are working with schools through Girl Empowerment Forums to raise awareness on this issue, this also involves engaging mothers to protect their daughters from this harmful practice.’’

*Name changed to protect Identity

For media inquiries, please contact Walter Mawere, CARE Somalia Communications and Advocacy Coordinator via: [email protected]